Tom Jones Is In Town, That Means It's Panty Throwin' Time
By Mark "The Red" Harlan
A somewhat strange decision, like making a trip to throw panties at Tom Jones, starts out surprisingly sane. It was late 1994 and the Silicon Valley start-up I was working for had just shipped its first product. At that point I wasn't concerned that our company was over-hyped, our product excessively expensive (while having the added bonus of being under-powered), and the release was nearly two years late. No sir, I'd cleared my mind of those trivialities and instead was focusing on a far more important matter, namely, what's a good way to blow off some steam after 225 consecutive days of work?
Like any good boss that's too damn lazy to work himself, I called my group together for some ideas. Disneyland? No, we already had to deal with too many mute dwarves in our day-to-day work. Club Med? A possibility, but only if we would be allowed to bring our own clubs and meds. Hawaii? Maybe, but that would probably mean that at some point we'd be forced to go outside. Las Vegas? Hmm. Now there's an idea.
Las Vegas had a lot going for it. Cheap airfare. Close proximity to Area 51. They speak Western American English. And perhaps most importantly, 24 hour activity, which meant we wouldn't have to do any resetting of body clocks. Vegas, it would be.
My ultra-babe friend, Angelique, had heard of the Vegas plan, and said, "You know, I just looked on the Web and Tom Jones is playing there." The next part is a blur because I don't honestly remember if it was her or me that said, "Yeah, and we could throw panties at him," but the statement definitely was made. I may not remember because panties are something I actually had never spoken about in my 10 years in the computer industry and the sudden utterance caught me by surprise; or I may not remember because as a manager I was aware that I could be held personally liable for any sexual harassment suits filed.
What I do remember however is that we quickly struck a deal. I'd pay for her ticket to see the favored son of Wales if she'd give it her best to clock him with her knickers. If that's not entertainment, I don't know what is.
The trip to Vegas was uneventful, which is to say that no one in my group tried to blow the emergency slide (never a sure thing) and we weren't abducted by aliens, nor the US government, while peering into Area 51. After a few blurry days of card counting at the 21 tables, the morning of the Tom Jones show was upon us and we went shopping for panties -- a task that's not as trivial as it may at first sound ...
The panties not only had to be worthy of Tom Jones (and representative of the outrageously priced $50 tickets), but also had to have aerodynamic characteristics so they would be chuckable. Sure, frilly lace looks great, but if there's no mass behind the surface area, it's like trying to throw a handful of bird feathers. The last thing you want is a weak throw falling short, landing on a stage light, and burning down the MGM for the second time this century. Thong underwear seem to be well suited in the shoot-like-a-rubber-band category, but they potentially could be tricky and if you screw up, who knows what could happen? Catch a leg on the back of your head and you're dead from pseudo-erotic asphyxiation, spending an eternity as a bad footnote in Bo3b's book, "Stupid People and How They Died." Accidentally snag that 60 year old groupie next to you, and the next thing you know grandma is hurtling out of control over a glittering disco ball. Nobody should have to shout, "I love you, Tom!" as their dying words -- especially in front of a casino audience.
On the surface, Angelique, the ultrababe in question, did not seem capable of making these gross errors in underwear trajectory, but it's important to remember that this is Tom Jones we're talking about here. He has an unusual and eerie effect over women, and I had no idea what to expect from her once she was under The Spell. As a kicker, Tom is Welsh, and that's scary because, well, no one is Welsh. It was important to pick the right panties, because we were dealing with enough unknowns the way it was, we didn't need gross satin aerodynamic instability to complicate things further.
At our first panty stop, the clerk was a 20-something brunette with tight pants (no panty lines) and big hair. I told her, "We need a pair of panties to throw at Tom Jones," and she paused trying to consciously determine my level of sincerity. From the expression on her face, I would say this was probably the biggest test of intellect the clerk had faced in the last year.
After a long look she said, with notable disdain, "I didn't know people still do that."
It didn't matter what the interpretation of the word, "that," meant here -- throwing panties at concerts in general, or specifically at Tom Jones -- Angelique and I said together, "We do."
"Well, what do you have in mind?" and she began half-heartedly showing us possible future projectiles. Angelique didn't like the clerk's lack of enthusiasm and we left suddenly; my lasting memory being that of the clerk examining a pair of leopard skivvies in harsh light, trying to determine their transparency.
I got the creeps the moment I set foot in the next store. It was a Victoria's Secret and the proprietress was a 65 year old woman who looked like she'd seen WAY too much action -- of all types -- in her desert-dusted life. More than anyone I've ever met, she's probably best described by one of my father's favorite expressions, "a hard broad." Talking about panties with someone that looks like your grandmother -- that is, if she had done 40 years breaking rocks in the local penitentiary -- is never an easy task, but this was a serious quest requiring resolve and guts. Tom was only hours away, I couldn't be turned back now by something as wimpy as a weak social fortitude.
"We need a pair of panties to throw at Tom Jones."
She didn't so much as skip a beat. "Regular or crotchless?" Clearly we had come to the right place.
We dug into her wares with zest and common purpose coming up with a pair of turquoise thongs in short order. Bright enough to stand out in a panty onslaught, hefty enough to be tossed 100 meters by any decent East German shot putter. They sat naturally in Angelique's hands, and I could tell The Spell would have to be fairly awesome to put her off the mark. At the bargain price of 20 bucks, we had found the tool for our task.
Everything was set, but there was one philosophical bridge left to cross ... We were driving to the casino when I brought the subject up -- I was trying to be cool, but having only a minor amount of success, "Angelique, you know you can't just pull these things out of your purse. You've got to wear them. They need to be ...." I was struggling for the proper word here, my blood pressure was rising ... say anything you idiot, "uh ... authentic."
"I know that," she snapped.
My coolness was returning. "And no double bagging," I added. She shot me a look that could best be called "disdain extract."
Mr. Jones was playing at the MGM Grand, and the crowd was at least as scary as you could imagine. A lot of sequins. A lot of wrinkles. A lot of people who had yet to tell their tailors they were actually four sizes bigger than the clothes they were ordering. This was definitely a "rattle your jewels," versus a "shake your booty," crowd. We were young enough to be everyone's kids, and given his reputation, I was doing rough calculations trying to figure out how many might actually BE Tom's.
Tom Jones came out, looking remarkably well preserved, and proceeded to grind his way through all the old hits, as well as the obligatory new crap. His backup girlies spent most of their time with that sexy/snagged-fish look and writhed to the low-rider-worthy beat. The sound was great and maybe being Welsh means you can actually appear to be INTERESTED when performing, "It's Not Unusual," for the ten zillionth time in your life. The rowdiest the crowd ever got was in a somewhat strenuous shaking of their heads, although from my angle I couldn't tell if this was a form of grooving to the beat, or people simply nodding off due to a time-induced Geritol underdose.
The show was drawing to a close and the timing seemed perfect for the much-anticipated panty launch. True, no one had thrown their panties on the stage yet, let alone even stood up, but this would just make the path that much more clear for Angelique. (In fact, Angelique had become so evangelical in her quest that she'd convinced a friend to give hers a hurl as well.) I turned to suggest that this could be the perfect time, only to see her already swinging said panties by one finger. Damn that woman was fast -- how come I never knew anyone like that in high school? Her quickness and sense of purpose, not to mention new found freedom, took me by surprise. "Good luck," was all I could choke out.
The would-be garment throwers made their way down one side of the audience only to be stopped by a security guard when they were about 20 feet from the stage. A long conversation ensued that lasted well longer than "What's New Pussycat?" and when Angelique gestured with her panties the guard physically recoiled -- much as you would if you'd just seen a rattlesnake -- and began talking frantically into his lapel.
But nothing fazes a good woman with a higher purpose. Angelique and her disciple beat a quick retreat, circled audience, and headed in from the other side of the stage. Once again a long conversation ensued and ended only when they both started shaking their panties in the face of the guard. No dice.
Dejected, they returned to our table.
Angelique was livid as she threw her panties on the table, "You know what that guard said? He said, 'We don't do that kind of thing here!' I think he wanted to throw me in casino jail or something."
I was incredulous. "WHAT? Did you tell him that this is MORE than just a throwing-of-panties-at-the-MGM-type-thing? Did you tell him this has a HISTORY? A legacy? That this is what you DO at a Tom Jones show? That we're in Nevada, a state with legalized prostitution for chrissake! And it's not like you're throwing bats at Ozzy Osbourne!"
She looked down and shook her head. "Yes, I told him all of that ... AND that we had traveled hundreds of miles just to do this." A nice clincher that I wouldn't have even been able to come up with under those breezy, high pressure, circumstances.
An older woman next to us had become interested in the situation. "What's wrong?" she asked endearingly.
I pointed at the guards, "The MGM gestapo won't let my wives throw their panties at Tom Jones." I figured I might as well make it sound good.
She clucked in sympathy, "Now dear, that IS awful." That's the great thing about Vegas, you've always got someone to commiserate with you, even (or possibly especially) when your sadness is based in the semi-perverse.
Tom Jones was leaving the stage after his final encore, "Thank you all for coming. See you real soon."
"Don't bet on it, Tom ..." Angelique sneered under her breath. She looked vacantly at the panties, "I think we all need to go out and get REAL drunk."
To me that just seemed redundant.